Google’s Keyword Planner tool just became even more inaccurate

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You’re probably familiar with the Keyword Planner tool, which is one of the best sources we have to spot opportunities and make the business case for an investment into paid or organic search campaigns.

One of the things it provides is guidance on the volume of searches for any given query. The numbers reported in the tool have always been somewhat vague. They are rounded up and numbers end with at least one zero. A pinch of salt has always been required when digesting the data.

It turns out that these numbers are now even more imprecise.

Jennifer Slegg spotted that Google has started to combine related terms, pooling them all together and reporting one (bigger) number.

No longer can you separate the data for keyword variants, such as plurals, acronyms, words with space, and words with punctuation.

As such it would be easy to get a false impression of search volumes, unless you’re aware of the change. No sudden jump in search queries, just an amalgamated number. Be warned.

Here are a couple of examples…

Bundling together anagrams and regional spellings

Lumping together plurals and phrases without spaces

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The problem could be exacerbated by third party tools. Jennifer says:

“For those that don’t notice the change – or worse, pulling the data from tools that haven’t updated to take into account the change – this means that some advertisers and SEOs are grossly overestimating those numbers, since many tools will combine data, and there is no notification alert on the results to show that how Google calculates average monthly searches has been changed.”

So yeah, this isn’t exactly good news. In fact, I can’t think of any benefit to the end user, but Google has a history of obfuscating data, so perhaps it shouldn’t come as a surprise.

That said, it once again pushes the focus towards relevance and context rather than pure volume. Advertisers and content creators would do well to focus on optimising clickthrough rate and landing page performance, rather than just shotgun marketing.

Guesstimated data aside, you can use Search Console to make sense of actual performance. Map your page impressions to organic (or paid) positions and you’ll get a sense of how accurate the Keyword Planner data is for any given term.

It’s also worth remembering that there are seasonal factors at play with the reported data. Volumes shown are an approximate figure based on 12 months search data. You might get a better idea of more accurate monthly figures if you cross-reference data from with Google Trends, which will show seasonal spikes (February is a big month for flowers).

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Keyword Planner replaced Google’s Keyword Tool and Traffic Estimator about three years ago. Users of the old tools initially complained about missing the broad match and phrase match options. Now, they’re going to miss even more detail around keywords and data.

Proceed with caution, as ever.

17 inspirational examples of data visualization


We can all collect masses of data, but it only becomes genuinely useful when we use it to make a clear point.

This is where data visualization comes in. Showing data in context and using creativity to make that same data tell a story can truly bring the numbers to life.

There are a whole bunch of data visualization tools out there to help create your own, but here are some existing examples for inspiration.

A day in the life of Americans

This excellent visualization from Flowing data uses information from the American Time Use Survey to show what Americans are up to at any time of day.

What streaming services pay artists

This from the wonderful information is beautiful website, looks at how the major online streaming music services compare in terms of paying the musicians.

Two centuries of US immigration

This fantastic visualization from metrocosm shows the various waves of immigration into the United States from the 19th century to the present day.

us immigration

US population trends over time

This gif from the Pew Research Center is a great example of how movement can be used to convey shifts and trends over time.

pew gif

Why you should take the bus

The German town of Münster produced this series of images back in 1991 to encourage bus use. It’s beautifully simple showing the relative impact of the same number of people (72) on bicycles, in cars, or on a bus.


What happens in an internet minute?

This infographic from excelacom presents what happens online in 60 seconds, including:

  • 150 million emails are sent.
  • 1,389 Uber rides.
  • 527,760 photos shared on Snapchat.
  • 51,000 app downloads on Apple’s App Store.
  • $203,596 in sales on


US wind map

This moving visualization shows wind speed and direction in real time.

It looks great and is easy to understand, which is key to effect data visualization. This one comes from

wind map

Daily routines of creative people

I’ve always been pretty cynical about this ‘X things successful people do before breakfast’ stuff – as if by following this, people are suddenly going to become Steve Jobs or Albert Einstein.

However, this one from podio showing daily routines of creative people is very interesting. It won’t turn you into a great composer, but it’s a fascinating insight nonetheless.


The impact of vaccines

This is a series of visualizations from the Wall Street Journal, which shows the impact of vaccines on various infectious diseases.

It’s striking stuff, which clearly demonstrates the incredible positive impact of vaccination programs in the US.

vaccine impact

London food hygeine

This is a great use of freely available data to provide useful information for the public.

london hygeine

The one million tweet map

This uses tweet data to present a geographical representation of where people tweet about topics. The example below is for ‘Brexit‘.

1m tweet map

The fallen of WW2

This, from Neil Halloran is a cross between data visualization and documentary.


There are two versions of this. The video version you can see embedded below, and an interactive version.

People living on earth

A simple but very effective visualization of the world’s population, and the speed at which it increases.


The ultimate data dog

This, again from Information is Beautiful, uses data on the intelligence and other characteristics of dog breeds, plotting this against data on the popularity of various breeds from the American Kennel Club.

data dog

How much did band members contribute to each Beatles album?

This from Mike Moore, shows the relative writing percentage for each Beatles album, as well as the contribution over time.

The Beatles

A day on the London Underground

From Will Gallia, who used data from a single day’s use of the London underground to produce this timelapse visualization.

Fish Pharm

This is from way back in 2010, and illustrates the fact that antidepressants and other pharmaceuticals are now showing up in fish tissue.


SEO for Etsy: three tips to improve your store’s search visibility

etsy trends

We live in the age of personalization and customization.

Businesses are trying to find ways to personalize their services to better connect with overarching trends. With the Internet at your disposal, you can have a custom shirt with your dog’s face on it and also get a shirt for your dog with your face on it.

This is just one example of the growing customization culture and interest for the weird that has cropped up, causing an uptick in the amount of Etsy stores out there.

As of 2014, Etsy had 54 million users —up from just 5 million users in 2004. 1.4 million of these Etsy users are active sellers. As more Etsy stores pop up, the space becomes more competitive.

Optimizing your Etsy store and products will help you stay visible whether customers search on Etsy or Google. Here are the fundamental tips and tricks to help enhance your Etsy store and product listings to increase traffic from Google to drive sales.

Etsy keyword research

Having an understanding of your customer’s keyword for your own business is beyond powerful and can help potential clients and fans find you.

Marmalead is a great tool to find keywords for Etsy shops. With it you can type in a tag (or keyword) and see total results or competing products and shops, total views, average views per week, average favorites per week, and much more. F

or a more in-depth explanation of this tool and how to use it for keywords, check out the Ultimate Etsy SEO Guide on Marketing Artfully.

dog beds etsy

Another free option to find keywords for your business – whether you’re a painter or sell custom koozies – is the Google Keyword Planner Tool.

In the Keyword Planner, you can enter one or multiple keywords and Google will tell you a rough estimate of how many searches there are a month, the competition, suggested bid (if you were running an Adwords campaign), and related keywords.

This provides insight as to how people are searching for products related to what you offer.

Let’s say you sell celebrity prayer candles, which I hope you do. Instead of using the keyword “celebrity prayer candles”, you can also try “celebrity candles” or even “funny prayer candles.”

adwords keyword planner

Although “celebrity prayer candles” may be your exact item there is an opportunity to take a top spot for “funny prayer candles” since no shops are currently optimized around it (see screenshot below).

Choosing keywords that have lower search volume, less competition, and are specifically related to your products may be better choices to pull in relevant traffic.

Slight variations in keywords can make all the difference, and having keywords at your disposal is great ammunition, whether you have an Etsy shop or a blog on a WordPress site. You need to know what people are looking for and how to reach them.

Make sure to keep a list of applicable keywords ready whenever you are creating a new product listing.

Optimize your Etsy shop for Etsy and Google… but also your customers

You’ve got those awesome keywords at your disposal. Now it’s time to use them!

The coolest thing keywords can do is show you how people are actually searching for your items. Instead of guessing in the dark, you can use terms that potential customers are using to find your products.

Optimizing both your shop and products are essential to being found on Google and to have people click through. Let’s return to our favorite prayer candle example.

celebrity prayer candles search

Above are the top two results for ‘celebrity prayer candles’. The first result has a meta description that is the proper length and tells you about the business, but the business name is cut off from the page title.

On the other hand, the second result has the business name in the page title (but before the keyword) and the meta description is loaded with too much information and is not succinct.

A page title should be max 65 characters and the meta description should be a maximum of 140 characters. Your page title/store title should quickly summarize what your business does and its name.

A better page title for the first Etsy store might be “Celebrity Prayer Candles | Granny’s Hope Chest”. This title is short, but lets you know what the store offers and what it’s called.

A great tool to preview what your shop title and announcement will look like is the Google SERP Snippet Optimization Tool.

Optimize your Etsy product listings

If you’re trying to move specific product on Etsy then you need to optimize: 1. title description, 2. tags, 3. the first sentence of the product description, 4. categories and materials.

Google pulls this information to create what shows up in search engine result pages, so optimizing properly can help boost traffic on specific products.

The Etsy product title is what Google uses for your listing’s title tag, H1 tag, and image alt tag for each page so make it informative and keyword optimized.

etsy optimise product listings

Scott Taft does a great job of further explaining how your Etsy store translates on Google.

Let’s say you not only create celebrity prayer candles, but you really kick it up a notch and specifically create Steve Buscemi prayer candles.

Yes, there are an average of 30 searches a month for “Steve Buscemi Prayer Candle,” according to Google Keyword Planner. Since Buscemi prayer candles are a little more popular than you would imagine, optimizing your product listing for both Etsy and Google can make a big difference in separating your Steve candles from the rest of the celebrity candle pack.

steve buscemi prayer candle

Again, make sure your product title uses a keyword before your business name and is 65 characters or less.

In this case, if someone is looking for a Steve Buscemi prayer candle then chances are they have a pretty good sense of humor, so your product description should be written to draw a potential customer in with witty copy.

The meta description pulls the first sentence from your product description (as Scott Taft points out in the image below). Remember to make the sentence close to 120 characters and include the same keyword from your page title, if possible.

etsy meta description

Using the keyword ‘Steve Buscemi prayer candle’, I created a keyword-focused page title and meta description that is clear, concise, and may appeal to Buscemi fans. The page title/title description is 55 characters and the product/meta description is 116 characters.

Creating Etsy product titles/page titles and meta/product descriptions that are keyword focused, informative, and fun can help an artist stay visible on Google.

etsy meta descriprion on google

Implementing a keyword strategy may seem confusing and monotonous at first, but it will eventually become routine and is sure to yield results.

Understanding how people search for and see your shop and products is essential to performing well as the customized market grows. When it comes to SEO, try to think like a human first and a search engine second.

No matter what you’re selling, take a few minutes to think about how you would be searching for your product on a search engine and then use the tools and tips to create a strategy. A competitive space isn’t a bad thing when you understand your audience and how to reach them.

Maddie Silverstein is an SEO Analyst at DigitasLBi and a contributor to SEW. You can connect with Maddie on Twitter: @maddigler.

73% of marketers believe UX in digital advertising needs to be improved

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Digital advertising is experiencing a shift towards a mobile and multiscreen world, and despite all the available opportunities, user experience is not always satisfactory.

Interactive Advertising Bureau, Kargo and Refinery29 conducted a survey among 283 marketers and media agency executives, discussing how the advertising experience can be improved.

According to IAB’s Improving Digital Advertising Experiences with Liquid Creativity report, 73% of marketers feel that user experience has to be improved in digital advertising.

There is consensus about the many different challenges they need to overcome when creating a campaign, with ad clutter, creativity and user experience being chief among their biggest problems.

In fact, ad clutter has led many users to ad blocking, due to the quantity, irrelevance and disruptive nature of many ads. According to Mary Meeker’s 2016 Internet Trends Report, the use of ad blocking has significantly increased over the past few years…

Michael Lebowitz, Founder and CEO, Big Spaceship, is not surprised by this increase:

“We added negativity with more tracking and more cookies; we increased negative values to consumers progressively instead of adding new value to them.”

User experience is more important than ever for consumers and that’s what brands tend to forget when creating a new ad. It’s the combination of speed, relevance, quality and security that make users appreciate an advertising experience and modern marketers should focus more in this direction.

How important is the user experience then in a mobile world? Susan Credle, Global Chief Creative Officer of FCB, replies:

“If you don’t get the design right in the mobile-first world, you will miss the largest audience. If users have to do all the work, scrolling, moving back and forth on mobile, the odds of me sticking with you is small. The mobile-first world has a lot to do with UX, understanding design over creatives.”

The challenges of UX in mobile advertising

In order to improve user experience in mobile advertising, it is important to begin with the realisation that a mobile screen is different from traditional media and “bigger screens.”

As people use a mobile screen for different reasons than they do for a laptop or a TV, so marketers should seek new approaches to stay relevant and get their message heard.

According to Steve Wax, Managing Partner, The Cooke Wax Partnership, the key to success in the mobile world is to “provoke people, move and engage them. Build into the experience you already have on mobile, while understanding the utility unique to mobile.”

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IAB’s survey showed that 79% of marketers and ad buyers consider the overall site/app experience and the page’s load time very important, while creative quality and content relevance are also close. A positive advertising experience should focus then on offering the necessary value to the user, establishing a relationship that is both useful and rewarding.

It’s becoming clear that user experience in mobile advertising will always have areas of improvement and as the challenges keep increasing, it will be even harder (but possibly more rewarding) to stay up-to-date.

How to improve the digital advertising experience

Despite the challenges in mobile advertising, there are still many ways to take advantage of the rise of mobile, and these tips may form the start of a seamless advertising experience:

  • Know the audience. No matter how many changes mobile UX may bring, the proper understanding of your audience is always the first step to a successful campaign. It’s all about delivering the right content for the right audience.
  • Integrate the right content in the right context. By the time you learn your audience, it’s time to create the best content according to the context. The quantity and even the quality of the content may not be enough if you don’t take into consideration the context.
  • Shift user approach from transaction-driven to relationship-driven. Engagement may be easier if you start building a relationship with your consumers. Start with one step at a time and loyalty might become easier.
  • Improve UX design. A better user experience leads to more positive results. Whether it’s the page load time, the responsive design, or the ad clutter, there are certainly many areas to consider in mobile advertising.
  • Take risks to innovate and maintain creativity. Don’t be afraid to experiment with new trends and it’s a good idea to use the creativity along with technology and data to ensure that you stay ahead of your competitors, capturing the attention of your audience.
  • Improve upon efforts at industry standardisation and collaboration. Don’t forget to be part of the industry in key areas that are constantly changing.
  • How do people view search engine results pages?


    The F-shaped pattern has been the commonly understood way in which web users browse sites and search results.

    Has user behaviour changed since then, or have perhaps the changes that Google and others have made to the presentation of search results made a difference?

    An eyetracking study carried out by ConversionXL looks into this question, comparing the results with previous studies.

    Here are a few key findings from the article…

    The F-pattern no longer holds up

    The F-pattern was something discovered during testing by Jakob Nielsen. The finding being that users read or scan pages in two horizontal movements followed by a vertical movement. Thus the F-shape.

    For search results, as in the example shown on the right below (this is from 2006) we can see that the first two or three results attract most attention, while results below four or five downwards attract less interest.

    Now the SERPs are different. We have more images to catch the eye in some results, as well as features like rich snippets, which stand in contrast to the more text-heavy Google results of the past.

    Perhaps as a result of this ConversionXL were unable to replicate the F-shape in their tests. In the example below, the first result gets the maximum attention, with very little below the third result.

    Google was right to remove right hand side ads

    Google’s removal of right hand side ads earlier this year is backed up by the study.

    In a nutshell, ads on the right didn’t get much attention, but ads at the top of search results did, at least until users realised they were ads (explains the green text I’d say).

    ads eye

    Contrasts between Bing and Google

    The study found a few differences in user behaviour on the two search engines:

    • Users took longer before exploring below the fold on Bing. Google users began to view below the fold after around 7.1 seconds. On Bing this figure was 10.5 seconds.
    • Bing users spend more time viewing results above the fold. On Bing, users spent around 9.8 seconds compared to 7.8 on Google.
    • Bing users took longer to view the first organic result. On Google, users viewed it after 3.3 seconds. On Bing this was 8.8 seconds.

    In summary

    I’d recommend reading the full article for more detail around the tests, but there are some interesting findings.

    It seems that the f-shaped pattern may be no more, though I’d like to see other eye tracking studies before drawing that conclusion with certainty. There are so many variables – number of ads in results, images, featured snippets etc – that can effect the reading pattern.

    There may well be a number of different patterns according to result types and, of course, user behaviour may change according to the intent behind the search.

    One thing seems to be clear though – the top two or three results still command most attention. (This is from an Advanced Web Ranking CTR study in 2014)


    When will responsive websites respond to user context?


    Terms like “mobile first” and “responsive web design” sound dynamic and user-centric, but the reality is most mobile-first responsive websites are simply reformatting ubiquitous content to suit different devices.

    • Goal of web (or app) advertising: right message, right person, right place, right time.
    • Goal of website (or app) content: whoever, wherever, whatever, whenever… eh… same content.

    Is that unfair? A gross generalization?

    OK, a lot of web advertising is still woefully untargeted or inaccurately targeted, but sometimes it can be freakily accurate.

    Ad targeting relies on the processing of real-time information from a variety of data sources – let’s call these “signals” or “cues” – about the mobile user and their behavior, in order to determine:

    • Who they are.
    • Where they are.
    • What they are doing.
    • What they like.
    • What they want.

    What makes this more stunning, is the amazing speeds at which adtech (advertising technology) works.

    Between the user clicking/tapping the link and the page rendering with the ad, the system has to analyze the signals and show the most appropriate ad, without causing a noticeable delay to the speed that the page loads.

    With programmatic advertising, in the same timeframe of nanoseconds (or at least microseconds), the advertising space is actually bought and sold in an online auction.

    Meanwhile on the website where these targeted ads are being served, the content remains largely the same, regardless of the user, their context and their intention. Similarly the content on the website where these dynamic ads are sending people, if they tap/click on them, remain largely the same, regardless of the user, their context and their intention.

    This is senseless.

    If targeted ads deliver better conversions than untargeted ads, then surely being shown more personalized, contextually relevant content, offers and services on the websites people elect to visit must also deliver better user experience (UX) and more conversions?

    As Mike Phillips, commercial director, McLaren Applied Technologies recently said (in an entirely different context) at London Technology Week:

    It’s not about big data, it is about using small data within the context of the person.

    Mobile first or mobile only?

    Announcing the retailer’s new website on June 2, 2016, Jason Goldberger, Target’s chief digital officer, said (in a corporate statement):

    People rely more than ever on their phones for everything in life, from interactions with friends to scheduling to shopping.

    We’ve talked for years about being a mobile-first retailer. This move takes us from mobile first to mobile only.

    What does this actually mean for, according to the before and after picture (Geographic redirects, prevent overseas people viewing the site, see below), the result is Target’s desktop and mobile site are now much the same, give or take some reformatting for different screen sizes.

    The web design style is more mobile-friendly more images, less words, and far less clutter. And it means visitors can more easily shift between screens, even mid-shop.

    But is this sort of homogeneity a good thing? Yes… and no. Yes people want a seamless cross-platform experience, but do they want a generic experience across all platforms?

    Being mobile first or mobile only isn’t just about screen size, page load times, tap zones, click-to-call and so on (though that is all very important) it should also be about context.

    Cross platform homogeneity forgets two massive thing:

    • The requirements of the desktop and mobile user are often different
    • The requirements of the same mobile user (more importantly) vary depending on whether they are at home, at work, commuting, on route to the location, on site, in a rival’s location and so on.

    And that’s just the start of it. Now consider:

    • How context varies by time of day, day of week, time of year.
    • What about the trigger that causes the visit to the site e.g. something on TV, snapping QR code in a print ad, tapping through from an email, social media etc.?

    This isn’t just about retail, it applies to numerous sectors: restaurants, events (music, sports etc.), airlines/airports, films/cinema, transport, financial services and so on. Use cases vary when you are at home, nearby or onsite and when the “thing” is: in the future, soon, now or past.

    Contextual relevance: the untapped opportunity

    Ronan Cremin, CTO, DeviceAtlas (a device detection tool, from Afilias Technologies):

    In my experience very few sites do anything meaningful with mobile contextual information. There are a couple of exceptions e.g. Yelp and Google, but for the most part sites do almost nothing with it.

    Apart from the really obvious one (location) there are other possibilities like detecting if user is literally on the move or not (accelerometer), is the battery low etc. etc.

    One important point about all of these contextual cues is to use them as hints rather hard deciding factors because the cost of getting things wrong based on an incorrect assumption is high.

    It’s really dangerous to make assumptions about what a user wants so I think that the best thing to do is make prioritization decisions over ordering of features rather than adding/removing features entirely.

    Mobile signals

    Mobile users give off a considerable amount of signals/cues – data from the device use, digital behavior – which, when visible to the web destination, collectively allows you to make an educated guess about who they are; where they are and what they are doing; and what they want. I.e. identity, context and intention.

    These signals include:

    • Profile data – information that has been volunteered e.g. delivery address.
    • Profile data – data that has been collected through behavior on previous visits e.g. pages viewed, shared.
    • Device used.
    • Geolocation – if shared.
    • Mobile network.
    • WIFI network – e.g. home, office, on-site.
    • Motion and direction – walking, commuting.
    • Time of day – e.g. lunch time, following a TV ad.
    • Search terms used if arriving from a web search.
    • Referral site (or app) – where did they arrive from today (and previous visits).
    • QR codes scanned (particularly if unique to a product or place).
    • Interaction with web ads (what, where, when).
    • Click though from email newsletter.
    • Click though from social media post.

    Contextual relevance today: basics

    Where relevant, a website, should deliver an experience based on the user:

  • Device – i.e. fits the screen, appropriate page size, appropriate features e.g. use of camera, click-to-call. But always with the option to revert to a different version (e.g. desktop).
  • Country – e.g. appropriate currency, language, terminology (e.g. postcode v zip code), local phone numbers, office addresses, maps, observance of local rules and regulations. But with the option to revert. There is no excuse for forms that require scrolling through every country until the user reaches UK or USA.
  • Intention – i.e. if a user clicks/taps on an ad, link, QR (quick response) code or performs a web search for a particular item or type of content, then ensure the content on the landing page is appropriate.
  • Basic preferences – specified or inferred. Where one has been selected on a previous visit, default to the same local restaurant, store, station etc. – with option for “other”. Similarly log negative behavior – if a visitor has ignored or closed your download-our-app or subscribe to email message three times, move on, they’re not interested.
  • Opt-in preferences – if a visitor has elected to share location, subscribed (or refused to subscribe) to email, accepted cookies; remember the next time they visit.
  • However geographical redirects don’t always deliver the optimum results. Accessing from the UK redirects to, which is not mobile friendly. From overseas delivers an “access denied” page (which is hardly a good message to potential business partners from overseas).

    Contextual relevance today: more advanced

    1. Location awareness

    If users are prepared to share location, websites can make search results more relevant to where they are.

    The search engines and the directories, such of Yelp in the US and Yell in the UK, are very acute to mobile users desire for local results – typified by the rapid growth (according to Google) in popularity of “near me” searches (e.g. Pizza, plumber near me).

    This local contextual search results is just as significant on the website of the retail, restaurant, cinema etc. chain. Customers don’t just the need to find the nearest location, but the nearest store where the desired product is available in the correct size and color; the nearest cinema with seats to see the film tonight; the nearest restaurant with a table for six at 8pm.

    2. Recall of behavior (or preferences)

    When a returning visitor is recognized, websites should personalize based on previous behavior.

    If only male clothing (or e.g. sports items) were viewed on previous visits, retailers, such as ASOS, will default to the men’s (or sports) store.

    Leading retailers will also allow customers to pick up where they left off with “save for later” or recall products left unpurchased in the shopping basket.

    In the same way, restaurants should recall favorite meals or indications of vegetarianism; auto mechanics the make and model of the client’s car; sports and betting sites favorite teams and so on.

    3. Time relevance

    Time context manifests itself in several ways online. For example, Google local search results tell you when the store opens (not just the opening times).

    Retailers will give you a countdown to place orders for next-day delivery. Events will count down until the tickets go on sale, announcements are made or the event commences.


    Contextual relevance tomorrow

    The epiphany of a personalized experience is a website that adapts fully to the user context, based on the signals outlined above. Let’s just focus on three contexts:

    • At home
    • Nearby
    • Onsite

    For the same user, on the same device, the goals in these contexts can be quite different and this happens across many types of businesses.

    • Retail – at home: research/m-commerce at home; Nearby: find store/opening times/check product availability/reserve; in store: find products/check details/compare prices/pay/find product elsewhere.
    • Airline travel – at home: research/purchase ticket at home; on route: find airport/parking; at airport: check-in/navigate airport/ find shops/restaurant when.
    • Music festival – at home: research/purchase ticket/check info at home; on route: find way/traffic details/park/gain entry with ticket/ID on route; onsite: check schedule/navigate site/research bands/share.

    And so on… restaurant, sports event, museum, hotel.

    The imperative is to balance personalization with the danger of misunderstanding the context and the preference of the user.

    While it is difficult to find any good examples of anything like this on the web, it is not so farfetched. Some companies have already started to experiment with contextually aware native apps.

    According to a 2015 report by digital agency DMI a handful of US retailers – Walgreens, Home Depot, Nordstrom, Walmart and Target – now have apps that will switch to “Store mode” when on site, triggered by geo-technologies.

    Store mode include functions that are irrelevant outside the store, for example in-store mapping and navigation.

    Similarly, the BA App recognizes you’re in some airports and provides a tailored experience (thanks to Daniel Rosen, Global Director of Advertising at Telefónica for recommending this).

    The app also sends alerts if you’ve not left enough time to make it to the gate.


    • Please notify Andy Favell with any examples of websites that use contextual relevancy in innovative ways.
    • The origin of the mobile marketing mantra “Right message, right person, right place, right time” is uncertain, but I first heard it used by Paul Berney, mCordis.
    • Disclaimer: Andy Favell has undertaken contractual work for both Afilias and mCordis, in the past.

    RLSA and Customer Match: using smart segmentation for big wins

    So we all know about RLSA (retargeted lists for search ads) and its ability to use Customer Match, but how many of us are actually taking advantage of it?

    The big problem with RLSA Customer Match is that in order for it to really have an impact on volume and performance, you need to have a very large customer list.

    To be specific, leveraging RLSA with Customer Match is only worth the effort if you have a list of customers larger than 50,000.

    So let’s say you do have that size database. How do you actually use RLSA with Customer Match to make the most of your re-engagement efforts? It all starts with segmentation.

    We’ll go into how to do that, then explain why creating a campaign for each segment is important (TL;DR: it allows you to customize messaging and landing pages).

    Segment your audience

    The first step is to smartly segment out your customer list. There are a couple of ways to do so:

    Use Average Order Value: Segmenting out audiences by high AOV, mid AOV, and low AOV helps determine which audiences tend to purchase our more expensive, luxury/premium type products and those who go after the cheaper items.
    Use gender-specific categories: If your customers have purchased men’s clothing, accessories, or products or women’s clothing, accessories, or products, make sure your segments reflect that.
    Segment by brands/line of product: If you have certain types of brands or lines of products, you may want to segment customers out by the brand/product line they’ve purchased.

    Now that you’ve segmented your customers, you can create an RLSA campaign for each audience segmentation. Take the AOV example above. Based on that segmentation, you would create three campaigns: RLSA_HighAOV, RLSA_MidAOV, RLSA_LowAOV.

    Split out segmented campaigns to get creative and destination control

    Everyone knows that RLSA reaches users with high intent, which means that higher bids are appropriate; you can do that by just layering RLSA on existing campaigns and applying bid modifiers.

    So why go through the hassle of creating additional campaigns for RLSA efforts?

    Well, the benefit of creating them in separate campaigns is achieving complete control over creative and the post-click experience – getting the ability to tailor creative to each segment you’d like to reach.

    As an example, you know that high-AOV audiences performing a relevant keyword search have purchased more luxury products, so your messaging should be more geared around quality, design, or high-end products.

    On the flip side, for a lower-AOV segment, you should consider messaging more around deals, discounts, and affordability.

    So you have a more tailored creative experience for each audience segment. That’s great – this can help with bringing customers back onto your site. Now it’s time to also ensure you’re sending users in each segment to the most relevant page possible.

    Again, taking the AOV example, you would want to send your higher-AOV audience to a page that shows the relevant product/category they are searching for (if you have multiple pages that fit the bill, send them to the page showing more high-end items).

    For lower-AOV audiences, use a relevant product page with deals and discounts – or even direct them to a sale/clearance page.

    If you have a large customer list, RLSA with Customer Match is a powerful re-engagement tool – but success starts with smart segmentation.

    Good luck!

    Sana Ansari is the General Manager of 3Q Accelerate.

    Why Photoshop is no longer an “extra” skill for modern marketers


    Photoshop used to be considered an “extra” kind of skill for your average marketer. Now, things have changed, and to be a great marketer knowing Adobe Photoshop is not only extremely valuable, but becoming essential for marketing success.

    Marketing is no longer about simply being creative with your content and thinking about audience, it’s about actually creating visual content and understanding what type of visual content is going to draw in the right viewers.

    Employers want a marketer who is able to work in this new-age marketing world, so the quicker you can learn the basics for marketing, the better.

    Five reasons Photoshop is a necessary skill

    Consider five of the top reasons that a working proficiency in Photoshop is so necessary for today’s successful marketer:

    1) Winning social media marketing

    Just having the ability to edit and enhance photos for social media is a skill worthy of high praise these days.

    You can absolutely tell the difference between content that has been carefully considered and creatively enhanced on Photoshop vs. a photo that was posted without any attention to detail.

    With all of the social marketing taking place, the ability to make content stand out is incredibly important.

    In addition to being able to edit your photos and add text where you need it, Photoshop also gives you a lot of control of sizing images, which is incredibly important for social media banners, posts, and profile pictures.

    Things just ultimately look more professional when they are sized correctly, and since every social site has an optimal pixel size, you can take control of this and market your brand in the best possible way.

    2) Marketers wear multiple hats

    Being a marketer in today’s world means that you need to have the ability to wear multiple hats in your day to day.

    You may need to design an eBook, PowerPoint presentation, social media image, website banner, advertisement, etc. At this point you might not consider yourself a designer, but trust me when I say, if you can jump in to taking on some of these tasks without having to communicate your vision to a “designer” you are going to be a better marketer.

    Here’s a great break down of how to get started with Photoshop from Anum Hussain on HubSpot. I appreciate their perspective on not necessarily being a designer by training, but having the ability to get started with Photoshop as a marketer!

    3) Money talks

    Businesses are increasingly trying to get a lot of work done in-house rather than outsourced. This is because it saves them time and money. As such, companies are starting to value additional skills in marketers, as they know it will save them money in the long term.

    This is a win-win situation because marketers who possess skills like Photoshop generally make more money, and businesses who hire these individuals tend to save money. I would say if there was one reason to invest time into learning this skill, it is the financial opportunity as a marketer.

    4) Skill payoff

    Photoshop definitely takes time and energy to learn, there is no doubt about it, yet learning how to use Photoshop pays off very quickly for both you as a marketer and the company at large.

    If you think about all the times in a day that you could be directly editing, transforming, and altering marketing materials for your company, it is easy to see how the time spent learning this skill could help you nearly every day in your job as a marketer.

    Further, improving the quality of images on social media, or presentation of images on your website, also in-turn helps the company at large to be successful

    5) Take on new and creative projects.

    One of the things I really like as a marketer is the creative projects you can take on once you acquire this skill.

    Photoshop is definitely a space for creativity and there are few restrictions on the kind of work that you can do in the program.

    Since developing new content is one of the top ways to be a successful online marketer, taking a creative approach and being able to think outside the box using this program is an essential online marketing skill.

    What you can DO with Photoshop

    Once again, Photoshop is such a valuable skill as a marketer not only because you are likely making more money and saving your company money by possessing this knowledge, but you can be creative with the acquisition of this new skill.

    This gives you the ability to wear multiple hats more seamlessly and take on new challenges you hadn’t considered.

    But just what exactly can you DO with Photoshop? Here is a list of some things you can do with this skill, many which you’ve probably considered and others that you haven’t:

    • Edit and enhance photos
    • Create pixel-appropriate banners and social media images
    • Develop and revamp your website design and layout
    • Add more high-quality images to your blog
    • Use your own photographs in a way that looks professional
    • Create your own custom documents
    • Crisp vectors and easy dotted lines
    • Color fill and text wrap
    • Design t-shirts and other promotional materials
    • Restore old photos
    • Make images and content more vibrant
    • Correct images that are lacking quality
    • Develop unique and eye-catching advertisements
    • Modernize your web design
    • Unique email marketing designs and formats, designed by you!

    This list is not exhaustive by any means, but it gives you a sense of the unique ways you can use Photoshop. Ultimately, you have a powerful tool at your fingertips which can make your business stand out in a marketing campaign.

    Other design tools

    If you are interested in looking in to free tools, there are 21 free design tools for visual marketers that may also aid you in the process.

    My three favorites are:

    Google Fonts: A directory of over 600 different fonts (you really can’t go wrong here)!

    google fonts

    Pixar and/or Sumopaint: Photo editors that incorporate easily with Photoshop.


    Canva: Makes design “drag and drop easy.” Create Facebook cover photos, email banners, posters, event invitation graphics, and more!


    Do you have experience using Photoshop as a marketer? What do you tend to use it for the most? Let us know in the comments section below.

    Five brief but helpful tips for Google AdSense placement

    above the fold ad unit

    AdSense is an advertising service provided by Google that gives webmasters a free and relatively simple way of earning money through display advertising on their site.

    Of course the terrain of display advertising in the last few years has become a rocky place. With more and more people subconsciously becoming used to ignoring display and the rise of other content-led marketing methods.

    However, display ads can theoretically bring in revenue if they are targeted properly and are relevant to the user, context and device.

    And now that 21% of internet users globally only use their smartphone to access the internet, spurring Google to strengthen its mobile-friendly algorithm, it’s critical for all businesses to optimise their advertising for mobile.

    AdSense has recently issued its own report on tips for mobile web success, and in among the general advice and lovely graphics, there are some brief tips for ad placement that you may not be aware of, so let’s take a quick look at them now.

    Mobile ad placement best practice

    As the report says, you should focus on creating “a flow between your content and the ad placements.” Basically your ads should feel like part of the user experience, and served when your visitors are most receptive.

    The following tips are taken directly from the report…

    Tip #1

    When using enhanced features in text ads, decrease accidental clicks by moving the ad units a minimum of 150 pixels away from content.

    Tip #2

    Think about peeking your ad units above the fold for a great UX while maximizing revenue potential.

    Tip #3

    Potential eCPMs increase when you swap 320×50 for 320×100 ad units.

    320 x 100 ad unit

    Tip #4

    Anchor social links to make sharing easy.

    social links in ad unit

    Tip #5

    Use the 300×250 ad unit for a potential increase in fill rates and eCPM.

    300 x 250 ad unit

    Of course all these tips merely apply to AdSense display ads. There are many more pitfalls to be aware of when using other ad formats, especially if you use full-screen app ads on mobile sites, which you will be punished for.

    And much of this is moot if you don’t have the fundamentals of mobile optimisation correct in the first place.

    So your site needs to be responsive or adaptive to every screen size, the page speed needs to be fast, content should be easy to read… in fact, you should definitely read our comprehensive guide to mobile optimisation for more details.

    Facebook announces four new mobile ad formats

    Facebook the most mobile engagement of any platform, seeing more than 1 billion daily mobile users.

    With that in mind, Facebook made four announcements at Cannes this week:

    1. Creative Hub

    With a simple interface and a guide to Facebook and Instagram ad formats, Creative Hub is designed to make it easy for users to sample different tools and features, and work together and experiment.

    For instance, there’s a collaborative area for marketers to preview, evaluate and showcase their creative. There are also options to create and preview mocks on mobile, as well as create preview URLs to share with stakeholders.

    Built with the guidance of several agencies such as Ogilvy & Mather, McCann and Droga5, Creative Hub is currently testing and should be available to Facebook advertisers in the next few months.

    2. Upgrading Canvas

    We’re sensing a pattern with Facebook, which initially announced its Canvas ads, immersive mobile experiences that load 10 times faster than typical mobile sites, in Cannes last year.

    The product was launched globally in February and since then, people in more than 180 countries have spent about 52.5 million minutes – otherwise known as a century – viewing Canvas.

    New updates will make it easier for marketers to design, create, share and learn from these ads. Canvas will have a new feed unit designed to increase engagement, while marketers will have more detailed metrics, such as clicks-per-component and dwell time (the average is about 31 seconds).

    The option to create Canvases for organic page posts has already rolled out.

    3. Adding Audience Insights API

    Audience Insights API will give advertisers better insights into the audience they’re serving, using aggregated and anonymous demographics, psychographics, topic data and reports from Facebook IQ. Currently in beta, the feature is testing with brands like Mondelez and Anheuser-Busch InBev, and will be widely available early next year.

    Mondelez used Audience Insights for Cadbury’s “Taste Like Joy Feels” campaign, analyzing people’s feelings toward chocolate at various times throughout the day. Brand recall was improved by 40 percent, according to Cadbury.

    4. Improving slideshow ads

    Another popular Facebook ad format is the slideshow, which allows businesses to create videos from static images. However, they load significantly faster than traditional videos, on account of using five times less data.

    New features include the ability to create slideshow ads from mobile devices, audio and text overlay, and integration with Facebook’s Pages and Shutterstock photo libraries.

    That focus on video isn’t to say photos aren’t doing well on Facebook. Instagram announced yesterday that its user base has doubled over the past two years.

    The platform now has more than 500 million monthly active users around the world, 300 million of whom use the app on a daily basis.

    This is an abbreviated post, as originally featured on our sister site ClickZ.